Browsing News Entries

Browsing News Entries

Reclaiming an Art of Dying for the Twenty-First Century

Ars Moriendi, or “The Art of Dying,” was an immensely popular and influential medieval text aimed at equipping the faithful for death and dying. It appeared by order of the Council of Constance sometime between 1414 and 1418, and although its author is anonymous, some scholars speculate that it was a Dominican friar. It is no surprise that the Church would focus on death-related themes at this time: one of the central pastoral preoccupations of the late medieval Church was preparing souls for death, which included saving them from damnation and shortening their stay in purgatory. To suppose that this focus on death was primarily driven by the effects of the bubonic plague is probably an oversimplification; it seems, rather, to be a foundational characteristic of medieval piety, resulting from a flourishing belief in the reality of life after death and the salvific efficacy of the sacraments. Hence, securing the…

Becoming Like Who We Worship

From the earliest days of Christianity, it was believed that we become like who we worship. So for example, if we worship an authoritarian god, then we ourselves became authoritarian; if we worship a controlling god, then we became controlling ourselves; and so on. All the more reason then why the Bible places great importance on right worship and praise. The more we worship the true and living God, the more we become conformed to his image and likeness in which we were made. Here I briefly develop four aspects of the divine nature as revealed in Scripture and explore how worship of the God who is family, who is love, who is beauty and truth, leads us to become people of family, people of love, people of beauty, and people of truth. First, the God who is family. God is not solitude. He is a communion of persons of…

What We Need to Learn from Peterson (and What His Followers Need to Learn From Us)

Besides admiring Jordan Peterson’s ability to guide and mentor people, especially young men, Bishop Barron, I believe, wishes to address, in a Balthasarian way, Jordan Peterson’s incomplete picture of man. Peterson is indebted to Carl Jung, a famous Swiss psychologist. Based on what I can surmise from his videos, Peterson is especially influenced by Jung’s work on the archetypes. My only familiarity with Jung is from college psychology courses, so I’m not an expert on Jung. However, I could not help but think of him, Peterson, and the reason for Bishop Barron’s engagement with Peterson when I read the following from another Swiss great, Hans Urs von Balthasar,  The archetype which, in Christ, came forth from God cannot, by definition, be unearthed from the depths of man, not even by the most penetrating analysis, neither the as a “lost image which must be…

Pier Giorgio Frassati: Party Hats and a Love for the Poor

The end for which we are created invites us to walk a road that is surely sown with a lot of thorns, but it is not sad; through even the sorrow, it is illuminated by joy. —Pier Giorgio Frassati On one difficult night a few years ago, when I seemed to be dealing with a succession of battles with pneumonia or bronchitis, the strangest thing happened to me. I was lying in bed in the wee small hours and found my muscles going into odd sorts of rolling contractions, from the lower abdomen to mid-ribcage and all around my back. Because I hate taking medicines or pills unless I absolutely have to, I tried all the usual alternatives: slow, deep breathing. Prayer. Meditations on the Communion of Saints and those great examples of living through periods of illness and pain. Making an offering of…

Love Divine All Loves Excelling

[As St. Thomas Aquinas argues,] after the love that unites us to God, conjugal love is the “greatest form of friendship.” It is a union possessing all the traits of a good friendship: concern for the good of the other, reciprocity, intimacy, warmth, stability and the resemblance born of a shared life. Marriage joins to all this an indissoluble exclusivity expressed in the stable commitment to share and shape together the whole of life. Let us be honest and acknowledge the signs that this is the case. —Pope Francis Here is my journal entry with advice I received in Confession yesterday from an elderly priest, who is the textbook definition of an “old salt” with the gravitas that attends. There was a sense of awe in that confessional. He said: You know that after God…

Ignorance Is Bliss?

We live in an age that is painstakingly well-informed, very aware of all types of news. Our awareness transcends the limits of distance: we can just as easily talk on the phone with a friend down the street as we can watch events unfold in real time on the other side of the globe. Thanks to social media, we know copious up-to-the-minute details about the lives of all our friends. The vast body of knowledge available online means that we can Google just about any question, getting all the info we could ever want in seconds. We are constantly receiving updates, notifications, alerts—you name it! By all measures, it’s hard to image how we could be more connected, informed, or aware of what is going on in the world. For every good or joyful thing we know, it is likely we know many more bad or troubling news items. The…

On Reclaiming a Lost Patrimony: “My Father Left Me Ireland”

Tradition means giving a vote to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about. . . . Democracy tells us not to neglect a good man’s opinion, even if he is our groom; tradition asks us not to neglect a good man’s opinion, even if he is our father. —G.K. Chesterton   Soon I noticed that the classmates who moved into our development did so after their parents divorced. And then it became clearer to me. These houses were built to lean on each other because the homes inside were broken. The manicured green spaces between them gave kids places to play, but no way to walk to another…

Mind, Body, and Philosophy: An Interview with Dr. James Madden

What is philosophy of mind? What has neuroscience taught modernity about the soul? Dr. Matt Nelson sits down with Dr. James Madden, a professor of philosophy at Benedictine College, to talk about these important questions. Let’s start off with a biographical question. Tell us about your choice to become a professional philosopher. Did you always desire to take that route in life? I have been involved in academic philosophy for my entire adult life, but that wasn’t the plan for me as a youngster. I went off to college mostly concerned about playing football, though I had some vague sense of wanting to study in the humanities and social sciences. During my sophomore year I serendipitously fell into some philosophy courses, and I knew right away that I wanted to center my studies around this discipline. The problems these early courses raised to me resonated with issues that seemed to…

Indulge Your Faith with Reason; Imbue it in Wonder

A few months ago a Vatican News article announced that we may see Blessed John Henry Newman raised to sainthood sooner, rather than later. It’s good news that had somehow slipped my radar when it came out, and it got me considering Newman, a hero of mine, particularly since we share a beloved patron in St. Philip Neri. The possibility of Newman’s canonization reminds me of how controversial some find him, and also how we Catholics try to – according to our lights, our passions and agendas – try to frame narratives around holy people in order to then use them as hammers to build up our pet causes. We try to exploit and manipulate the saints, rather than simply learning from them. In Newman’s case, for instance, I recall that in the weeks leading up to his beatification more than one Catholic writer asked whether the Anglican convert…

A Hole in The Intellectual Dark Web

The so-called Intellectual Dark Web, populated in at least some proportion by purportedly anti-PC and smart-mouthed New Atheist types, has seemed to create an unexpected opening for people to discover the value—and truth—in religion. This is a topic I not only wish to explore the phenomenon of, but to show how people of faith can find opportunities to dialogue, and even evangelize, those who spend probably far too much of their time watching Joe Rogan interviews on the harm transgenderism has done to sports. We begin with an analysis, which I admit is entirely speculative, so bear with me. I believe The Intellectual Dark Web can be aptly described as a congregation of mostly liberal secularists who’ve become increasingly jaded with the direction the left-wing political agenda has been heading. People like Sam Harris, Brett Weinstein, and Dave Rubin. Jordan Peterson is there as well, who has played a particularly…